The Name Game

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From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1594:

JULIET:
      ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
      Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
      What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
      Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
      Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
      What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet;
      So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
      Retain that dear perfection which he owes
      Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
      And for that name which is no part of thee
      Take all myself.

Although I’m taking this a bit out of context, Shakespeare’s intended meaning is the same:  Juliet meant that it doesn’t matter what name we give to something, it remains the same.  Think about it:  does a rose smell any different if I call it garlic?  Nope.  Still smells delicious – just with a different name.

As it is with a lie.  Still reeks, just with a different label.

A lie is a lie regardless of the packaging.  It’s sort of like being given the most hideous gift ever, something truly revolting, in a beautiful package trimmed with bows, ribbons, exquisite wrapping and a lovely gift card with real gold lettering.  The package itself does not make the gift any less revolting.  In fact, it makes it worse because you expect something fabulous, and instead, get…..horrific.

In our society, we have given way to “New Age” beliefs, numerology, scientology, kabbala (sp?), hinduism, buddhism, islam, athiesm, homosexuality, abortion on demand, success-oriented churches, astrology, etc.    And in doing these things, we heap lie upon lie.

Satan, the author of lies and confusion, loves it.  He doesn’t really care what we call his lies as long as we believe them.  But the fact remains, it is still a lie.  It doesn’t matter what name we give the religion or agenda, if it is contrary to the Word of God, it is a lie.  Regardless of the name.

 

 

Everything happens for a reason….but whose reason is it?

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I know someone who is very fond of saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” meaning that everything that happens is supposed  to happen.   It’s actually a fatalistic view of the world, of course – depending on who says it.

You see, when a Christian says, “Everything happens for a reason,” what he or she means is that the Lord can use anything for the good of His Kingdom.  However, the actual statement, is somewhat faulty.  Let’s examine.

God is in complete control – period.  However, BECAUSE He allows us free will, things happen everyday that are outside the will of God.  For instance:  adultery, murder, homosexuality, unwed mothers, theft, idolatry, gossip, etc., are ALL outside the will of God.   God CAN use those experiences for good, but that is because He can REDEEM a situation – NOT because He condones it.

The things that happened in my past – wait, let me rephrase – the things that I did in my past are there because I chose to do them – NOT because God wanted me to do them, or to have those experiences.  Quite the contrary – had I lived within His will for my whole life, I would have been spared much of the pain of the guilt of sin.  But, I chose my own way for a season.  Some would say, “Everything happens for a reason.”  But, whose reason is it?

The truth is, the things that happened in my past happened for my reasons.  They were what I wanted.  They were not what God had planned for my life.  He knew it would happen.  He allowed it to happen.  And in his infinite grace and wisdom, He chose to REDEEM my life IN SPITE OF WHAT I DID.

That’s the key – in spite of me.  God redeemed my life, saved my soul, and gave me hope not because of me, but in spite of me

God calls us to obedience, and through obedience, He can bless us.  But when we are disobedient, He sometimes allows us to feel the sting of the consequences of our actions so that we can learn a lesson for next time. 

Regardless, we serve a God who is in the Miracle Making Business.  In fact, He has a monopoly on the market.  So, when the world condemns a situation, God can redeem it for His purposes.  This is evidenced by Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  In my KJV Bible, the word His is italicized.  Emphasized.  Special.  It is THE word to take note of in this verse – HIS purpose. 

So, yes, in a sense, I guess everything happens for a reason.  But, we need to be very careful in placing the blame of reason where it rightly belongs.  Did it happen because God supernaturally caused it to happen (and He can!)?  Or, did it happen because we were living outside the will of God and ignored His laws and precepts?

Sharpen Your Sword (week of 11/30/08)

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Ok, let me be perfectly honest here. 

I was going to write about James 1:13-14 today.  In fact, I had it written and was just adding a few supplemental verses at the end. 

But, I came across something that stumped me, and realized I may not have it exactly right, yet.  So, I’m going to pass over that one for now and go on to one of my favorite verses.

John 8:32   And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

Are you in bondage?  Are you a slave to someone or something?  Work, drugs, sex, alcohol, money, anything?  Are you a slave to sin?  Are you a slave to religion?

Did you know that you have a Redeemer who has come “to set the captives free?”  It’s true!  And, it’s amazing!

Ask anyone who has been rescued from a life or death situation, and they will tell you of the immense relief they felt.  No, relief is too light a word.  Honestly, I’m not sure how to describe that feeling.  And, yes, I have been on the receiving end of such a rescue. 

About 4-1/2 years ago I was in a position where I thought I was “hooked up.”  I mean, I believed in Jesus…that’s all it took right?

Wrong.

**NOTE:  Reading further is probably going to anger some.  That is not my intention.  My intention is to reveal the Truth of Christ’s love for the church through the example of some of my own experiences.

I thought that as long as I didn’t commit the “Big 3” sins, I was ok – you know, murder, theft, and adultery.  I was told that going to church and confessing to a priest was necessary for forgiveness.  I was encouraged to pray to saints and to the virgin Mary.  (No, I am not knocking Catholics here….but, this was my experience and this is what I learned from it.)  And, there was more, but I won’t get into the rest.

I did go into that cubicle and confess to the priest.  He told me to go have a good weekend.  WHAaa???  Needless to say, I was confused.  Wasn’t there more to it than that?  Didn’t I need to say some Hail Marys, or something? 

Well, God is so gracious.  He sent me someone I had never met (and still haven’t met in person!  Hint hint!) to point out to me the error of my ways.  I learned that I was right to question the need to confess to a priest once a year, or, at all.  In fact, I learned the truth that the only One I needed to confess to – the only One in fact, who could absolve me of my sin anyway – was Jesus!  I learned I was right to question praying to the dead – ie, saints, Mary, etc.  

It was not until this revelation that I began my life anew as a true, repentant believer in the Son of God, Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  And, the truth of being set free creates a euphoria that cannot be explained and never fades.  I was saved….and my chains were gone.  The ransom – PAID.

Slavery comes in many forms, and I was very close to accepting the chains offered to me that would have placed me in bondage (and kept me in bondage to previous unconfessed {to God} sin).  I am so grateful to God that He chose to intervene.  My rescue from God came via email!  At least the first installment.  It’s kind of like I was hanging from the edge of a rocky cliff, and was held onto long enough (the email) to allow someone to tie a rope (the Bible) around my waist.  The rope pulled me to safety, and prevented me from getting close to the edge again.  

Now, I am not saying that the Catholic church is a rocky cliff to jump (or be pushed) off.  But my experience was that the legalities kept me from experiencing true Christianity.  Religion, yes.  Christianity, no.  There is a difference.  Religion = legalities/rules/regulations = BONDAGE.  Christianity = FREEDOM IN CHRIST.

And it was the Word – the TRUTH of God that set me free. 

Jesus came to set the captives free, and wants nothing more than to draw you to Him, and rescue you from the edge of whatever cliff you are desperately hanging onto today.  Grab hold of His hand, and let Him pull you to safety.  Let Him pull you close and keep you from the edge.  He wants to rescue you – after all, you are His creation – His child. 

Other than the sin we are in bondage to before we are born again as believers, there are various ways Satan chooses to keep us in chains:

Drugs

Alcohol

Sex/pornography/homosexuality (there are TONS of things in this category…but I’m sure you understand)

Money – wealth/debt – Material things

Work

Marriage/Children/Family (If we place these relationships ABOVE our relationship with Jesus in our priority, then we are, indeed, in bondage to them.)

Success/fame/personal glory

Gluttony

Vanity

Lies/deceit

Hate/anger

Religious legalities

Abuse – emotional/physical/sexual

Impure thoughts

And the list goes on….

I encourage you to find a fellow believer if you are in bondage today – ask them to pray with you that your chains will be lifted and that you will be freed by the Truth that is Jesus.  Even now, before you accept that new-found freedom, read your Bible everyday.  There is so much truth in it, that you can’t help to remain free with God’s grace!

May all God’s children experience true Christian freedom.

Psalm 51:10,

Toni